Monday, October 25, 2010

"Ex Libris Ctibora Šťastnýho" by Josef Vachal

I've recently discovered the amazing woodcuts and other prints and paintings of Josef Vachal. I first came upon his work on this blog, and later found out more about him on this website.

This is from Vachal's Ex Libris woodcuts and depicts Ctibora Šťastnýho, an artist and teacher in Bzenec contemporary with Vachal.

When I look at this image, I feel a passion for knowledge and an exploration of the mind's eye. Books clutter the bottom of the page and hands are everywhere moving, staking, opening, and writing. The positions of heads and gestures of the three figures to the left swiftly guide my gaze up and around. The dynamism of the composition is greatly intensified by the sudden color changes, stripes and swirls of texture. Everything moves up counter clockwise in a great wave. Information and the human response to it build up on themselves until they reach the pinnacle: a great, upright torch lighting the flowing "Ex Libris" sign. Šťastnýho holds the torch. His face is calm, eyes closed in concentration. The direction of the piece then gracefully slides down across his chest, into his hand and feathered pen. But it doesn't rest there. Just as the pen needs to be replenished with ink, the artist's mind must be replenished with more information and experience. And so gravity pulls the eye downward, back to the books, to begin the cycle over again.

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